Economic Opportunity Fund Guidelines & Proposals



Consideration of Economic Opportunity Fund Guidance and Funding Requests



Messrs. Tucker, Foley, Davis, Graham; and Ms. Stimart






January 7, 2009


ACTION:     X          INFORMATION:   



  ACTION:              INFORMATION:   







On December 6, 2006 the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors voted to create an Economic Opportunity Fund (Attachment A – Excerpt from minutes).  In FY 07, $250,000 in one-time funds was set aside for this purpose and has remained in place since that time.  At the recent October Board Retreat, the Board agreed to 1) maintain the subject Fund and 2) have staff prepare draft guidelines that could be used in the review of future funding requests. 


To date, the Board has received two requests for use of this Fund.   In April 2007, the Piedmont Group of the Sierra Club wrote to ask the Board to allocate funding to the Community Development rural areas support position. That staff position was a strategy from the Rural Areas Plan, but remained unfilled as a result of the current revenue shortfall.  At the May 7, 2007 Board meeting, the Board discussed but did not approve this request.  On November 5th, 2008 Kate Collier of C&G Products, LLC submitted the second request in the form of an unsolicited proposal for $80,000 to support planning for a not-for-profit local food distribution hub in Ivy. See Attachment B – Local Food Hub Proposal. 



Objective 1.3:  By June 30, 2010, the County will continue to maintain a strong and sustainable economy; increase the economic vitality of the County's development areas and increase the ability of those individuals and families, who are living in lower income households, to become self-sufficient.



Based on review of the Board minutes addressing the creation of this Fund, staff has developed the following purpose statement and criteria for use in evaluating requests for funding and clarifying Board intent.  We believe it reflects the Board’s direction from previous discussion.  However, the primary purpose of this agenda item is to ensure that the purpose and criteria for use of the Fund is what the Board intended and provides policy direction for staff in the future.  Staff would appreciate any clarification the Board feels is necessary.   


In addition, staff has developed a list of additional questions below that will need further direction from the Board.  The answers to these questions will help clarify conditions the Board may feel are appropriate as proposals are considered.  Based on feedback from the Board regarding the purpose, criteria and answers to these questions, staff will develop a more formalized set of guidelines for future consideration by the Board. 


Purpose:  The purpose of the Economic Opportunity Fund is to address underemployment with an emphasis on training of the existing workforce.


Criteria:  In considering requests for the use of these funds, the following criteria will be used:


·      Workforce Development - When other resources are limited or constrained, this Fund can help address shortfalls in resources for workforce development, such as training, recruitment, and incumbent-worker training;

·      Matching Funding – Due to the limited size of the Fund, it is important to leverage other resources. Therefore, an important criterion is to consider the extent to which a project brings other resources and uses the Opportunity Fund as “bridge” or “gap” funding;

·      Capital Investment – Project proposals that demonstrate a planned capital investment can also demonstrate a long-term commitment to the area and the region’s workforce;

·      County Goals and Objectives – Where a project addresses strategies of the Albemarle County Comprehensive Plan or Strategic Plan, with most funding addressed through other private or public sources.


Other questions regarding the use of funds:

·      Should use of the funds be limited to only certain types of expenditures, such as job training credits or can they be used for start-up or other expenses?

·      Will the funds be made available to both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations and ventures?

·      Does the location of the business (rural verses urban area) matter?

·      Should the recipient of funds have any conditions placed on the receipt of funds, such as number of jobs created for County residents, types of job created or salary levels?  Funding from The Governor’s Opportunity Fund requires the recipient to execute a performance agreement that stipulates conditions for the receipt and use of funds.  As an example, what happens if the business fails to achieve the goals it outlined in its proposal or goes out of business altogether?

·      Since any funding provided would need to go through the Economic Development Authority, should they have a role in proposing guidelines or providing some other type of input?

·      Should the county verify that all other available sources of funding have been pursued?



Specific Proposals

Attached is a proposal for a Local Food Distribution Hub.  In addition, we understand that two other proposals will be submitted over the next few weeks also requesting funds.  Given the need for clarification regarding the use of these funds and what conditions the Board may believe are appropriate, staff does not feel it would be appropriate to provide an analysis of the attached proposal or the additional proposals expected over the next few weeks.  However, if the Board agrees with the purpose and criteria, it may be determinative in how to respond to this specific proposal. 



There is currently $250,000 in one-time funds available in this Fund.     



Staff recommends that the Board provide feedback on the purpose, criteria and questions posed and provide further direction on intended use of the funds and conditions it feels are appropriate.  From this feedback, staff will draft a set of proposed guidelines for further review by the Board. 


In addition, staff requests that the Board provide direction regarding the specific attached proposal in light of the broader discussion on purpose and criteria for use of the funds.




Attachment A - Excerpt from December 6, 2006 Board Minutes

Attachment B – Local Food Hub Proposal 

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